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Cougars thumped 62-7

By By Adam Prestridge
Southern Academy’s stable of running backs put on a clinic for the Escambia Academy Cougars Friday night as they chalked up 460 yards rushing in a 62-7 thumping at Bachelor Field.
Junior tailback Christopher Collums led the four-time defending state champion Cougars’ ground attack with 8 carries for 244 yards and three touchdowns. He scored on runs of 94, 53 and 48 yards on the way to his 30.5 yards per carry showing.
Following the win, Southern’s head coach Shaun Bonds said his team’s experience and depth proved to be the deciding factor in the game.
Senior tailback Charlie Baltzell also had a good night on the ground for Southern as he finished with five carries for 77 yards and two touchdowns. Junior fullback Heath Clary finished the night with two carries for 38 yards, including a 38-yard touchdown and junior backup fullback Thomas Reynolds finished the night with a 23-yard touchdown on one carry.
Southern drew first blood in the Battle of the Cougars when junior quarterback Sam Kelley connected on a 24-yard pass to John Michael Cochran. Kelley finished the night 3-for-3 through the air for 50 yards and one touchdown.
Escambia Academy came out on their first drive and did not looked phased by the visitors’ four and score drive. The Cougars marched down the field 44 yards following a solid return by Cedo Coon to the 49-yard-line, but the drive stalled following a fumble at the 5-yard-line, the first of five turnovers on the night for the home team.
One play later, Collums raced down the home sideline 94 yards for the touchdown. Clary followed up that score on the next drive with his 27-yard touchdown run. On Southern’s ensuing drive, they scored once again on Baltzell’s 25-yard run. At the end of the first quarter, the visitor’s had taken a commanding 27-0 lead.
Southern’s first drive of the second quarter was plagued with penalties and EA’s defense breathed some life into their team when senior linebacker Blake Kirk recovered a fumble at the 38. Escambia Academy’s offense then orchestrated an eight-play drive to the 3-yard-line, but again stalled, turning the ball over on downs at the 8.
On the next drive, Southern drove 92 yards in seven plays capping it off with another Baltzell touchdown, this time of 29 yards. At halftime the visitors were up 33-0.
Southern scored on a 53-yard run by Collums, a 64-yard interception return by Christian Montz and Reynolds’ 23-yard run in the third quarter, padding its lead to 55-0.
The Cougars finally got on the scoreboard with a little razzle-dazzle by head coach Heath Gibson who dug deep into his playbook. The score came with 3:16 left in the game when senior quarterback Jeff Price connected with a sprinting Kirk on a 39-yard strike. The extra point was good and the scoreboard read 55-7.
Southern added one more score with 1:17 remaining in the game when Collums ran in from 48 yards. The PAT made the final score, 62-7.
Southern finished the night with 519 yards of total offense. EA head coach Heath Gibson said it was a tough loss for his team, but he is thankful that everyone came away injury free.
Gibson said Southern’s numbers also played a factor in the loss.
Price led EA’s offense, which only managed 113 yards. He finished the night 6 of 22 for 104 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions. Senior receiver Nick Mills hauled in four catches for 44 yards and Kirk caught one pass for 39 yards and a touchdown.
Senior running back Kawetta Coon led the team’s ground game with 40 yards on 19 carries. Kirk had two carries for 5 yards.
Next week, the Cougars travel to Pickens for another region battle. Gibson said
Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.